Eyeing off the big boys
Kia’s wannabe Cerato has much to like, writes PAUL GOVER
IF YOU believe the advertising on television, one of Germany’s main carmakers is running scared of Kia. The South Koreans hope if you pick up hints, you will conclude the company in question is Audi. Or at least Volkswagen.
But no one at Audi is losing sleep over the new Kia Cerato. And Volkswagen bosses will probably just chortle when they see the Kia commercial.
The Cerato is a nice car and a big advance for Kia, but in no way could it be considered a serious rival to an Audi — or even Volkswagen.
Nor is that a bad thing — or a big failure.
The TV spot just proves Kia is shooting high as it pushes to become more than just a Hyundai-style, cutprice South Korean brand.
The Cerato is a big change with a good-looking new body, a 2.0-litre engine which, it is claimed, sets the class mark for power and torque, and a five-year warranty that gives people the confidence to commit.
The new sedan is lower, longer and wider than the model it replaces. A five-door hatch is also due later this year.
A starting price of $18,990 also gives a kick in a class in which the Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus and Honda Civic cost at least $1000 more, and Kia tips in electronic stability control, traction control, cruise control and audio controls on the steering wheel for an extra $1000.
So the Cerato comes in below $20,000 with everything you really need on a compact family car, unless you have to spend the extra $2000 on an automatic gearbox.
The key to the Cerato — a name Kia says is here for the long term, after a string of changes on its compact— is an approach that gives the brand some pulling power in the showroom. And moves it farther from Hyundai, which owns the company and provides much of the Kia mechanical package.
Compared with the Hyundai Elantra, the Cerato is ahead in almost every area and its starting price is lower. It’s also up and above the Nissan Tiida, despite the Japanese car’s price being steadily cut to now start at $18,490.
For now the new Cerato comes as a four-door sedan only, but there is plenty to like. Former Volkswagen designer Peter Schreyer has brought a new design direction that gives it a classy look with a big cabin and a roomy boot.
The 2.0-litre engine has variable valve timing for 115kW, a claimed 0-100km/h time of 10.5sec, and fuel use of 7.8 litres/100km. The list of standard equipment is long, but the best news is six airbags — which Kia says is a first at the price.
The rest of the $18,990 pack runs to anti-skid brakes, remote central locking, airconditioning and a sound system with plug-ins for USB keys and iPods.
And there is always that five-year warranty.
Kia is shooting high with the Cerato SLi as it pushes to become more than just a cut-price South Korean brand.